"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bare Your Soles


Wanna get intimate?  Take off your shoes.

 This morning I read an article in the Cornell Morning Sun called The Barefoot Practice by Tom Moore, who I believe is a student at Cornell University.  Moore writes about his barefoot experience around campus.  He felt natural and good about baring his feet everywhere as he felt an intimate connection with the world around him.  At the same time, he was met with (sometimes surprising) resistance from several people who were concerned for his safety, or who otherwise thought it wrong of him to meander about campus sans footwear. 

As I read I thought about bare feet, and how they relate to our lives and to our intimate relationships, particularly the one-flesh relationship between husbands and wives.  

Alright, sometimes I think weird thoughts, I admit it.  Bear with me and I promise there will be a take-away point at the end of this (well, sort of).

Those of you who know me also know that, as a rule, I don’t bare my soles (the ones on my feet) very often.  It isn’t because of my obsession with stylish shoes; rather, it’s because of nerve and muscle damage in my right foot that require support in order to lessen the pain. 

But, I digress ….

Barefootin' is risky business (aside from the “unique” aroma).   When we take off our shoes we are literally baring our soles - treading vulnerably into the world with the possibility of injury and disease.    A barefooted person might step on glass or rocks, scrape a toe against the concrete, impale the foot on a rusty nail, or contract ringworm.  There are a plethora of nasties that can happen when we go about our daily business without footwear.  On the other hand the elegant velvet suppleness of soft grass or the grainy tickle of sand between the toes cannot be experienced unless a person’s foot is naked and vulnerable.

What if we were talking about souls rather than soles?  What would happen if we got brutally honest about ourselves, our hopes and dreams, our desires and secret thoughts, and laid them all out for our loved ones?

When we stand before others unclad, naked  and vulnerable (get your minds out of the gutter - you know what I mean), we are able to experience the true, magnificent pleasures of genuine freedom.  It is only in this open state that we can be honest and authentic, we can be ourselves, and we can really feel our relationships in their raw, unprocessed states.   

Will we be hurt, humiliated, rejected?  Most likely.   Will we be accepted? Uh, maybe.  But even if we aren’t we still should take off our coverings and step out there.  We should expose ourselves and let what will be, be. 

In the same vein, I can’t help thinking about how this can be applied explicitly to the intimate, one-flesh relationship of a husband and wife.  After all, everything comes down to marriage for me.

How would that work?  Can we go barefoot (and bare-otherwise) in marriage? what would that look like?

When we open ourselves to show our authentic selves to our spouses, we run the risk of hurt, humiliation, rejection, criticism, etc.  However, there is also the delight we experience when we grow and learn through pain, humiliation, rejection, and criticism.  Through our discomfort comes great growth and improvement when we tear down walls and allow ourselves to come into the open, allowing ourselves to be known completely and let the chips fall where the may.   

What if my spouse isn’t into all this “open, vulnerable” gobbledy-gook? 

That’s okay.  Last time I checked, people were given the freedom to accept or reject you.  This includes your spouse (shocking, I know).  

True, it might not be easy, and it surely won’t be comfortable, but that’s okay.  One spouse can begin this journey alone.  Change generally happens when one person changes one thing at a time.  If you want to feel better about going “naked,” then, as the Nike advertisement says, “Just do it!”  Sure it will be uncomfortable, and will likely bring ridicule and uneasiness.  But in the end you will be a more genuine human being, you will be more willing to express yourself, and you will be an example for others who also want to experience the beauty of real intimacy.   


From the inside out,

TB

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Change Them By Changing You

I've just been reading Marriage Is Easy, a post by Dr. Corey Allen at Simple Marriage and it could prove to be pivotal moment in this old, feeble 47 year-old brain. 

You see, Dr. Allen explains a fact that many psycho-babble-ists have touted for years and years, and that is the fact that if we get what we expect to get.  In other words, (this is merely my take on his words) we create our own reality. 

Please don't get me wrong.  I have never been one to fall for psycho-babble, but the way the good doctors explained it ... wow.  Just ... wow.  I thought of it this way before, meaning that I never had anyone explain it in a way that I could actually believe it.

His opinion is that relationships are easy, but that developing intimacy in the relationship is hard work, especially when you are dealing with an immature person rather than a grown-up who lives with integrity and authenticity.  He calls marriage the "playing field of the 'worst in us,'" a place where all the garbage within is brought into the light and acts as a springboard to help us mature and grow.

Fair enough.

He also points out our capacity to enable immature behavior in our spouses by allowing bad treatment to continue.  He stresses that by tolerating inconsiderate behavior, we are partly to blame because of our lack of leadership in the relationship.

"If you accept bad behavior from your spouse (and friends and family), you are likely to get bad behavior from them."    
How, then do we stop this destructive cycle?  By raising the bar, and acting accordingly; by being what we want to attract.

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On the surface it sounds simple for everyone to apply this to their marriages, but I fear it will be anything but easy.  
  • First, you must pray for guidance and a vision for your marriage.  Pray that God will give you a clear idea of the marriage He designed for you and your spouse.
  • Secondly, decide once and for all how you want to be treated. Determine what is acceptable and unacceptable as far as behavior from your wife and family.
  • Thirdly, Communicate you expectations.  No one but God can read your mind.  If you want things to be different, then open your mouth and say so.
  • Lastly, and most importantly,  model the behavior you want them to display.  In other words, if you want your wife to be kind, be kind to her.  If you desire respect, show respect.  If you want her to be generous to you, be generous to her.  If you want her to pursue you sexually, pursue her sexually.   
Men, this article made me think not only about my wife's attitude toward me, but more importantly about my behavior toward her. 

Does she submit to my authority in everything?  Why or why not?  Do I need to look at my life through the lens of submission and make some changes?  How does my own submission to God look?  Am I modeling submission to Him in everything?  If not, then why would my wife ever want to submit to me?  (Ouch, that hurts!)

Have I made it clear, by my actions and attitudes, how I wish to be treated by her and our children?  Do they treat me with disrespect?  Is that acceptable?  If not, then what can I change about myself to show them a better example of respect?   

Will this work 100% guaranteed?  Of course not.  We sin.  It's a fact.  We are all human beings with big ol' nasty flaws and skeletons in our closets, and secret thoughts and feelings, and unexpressed desires, and resentments, etc... Wives will not submit to their husbands, children will not obey their parents, husbands will not submit to the Heavenly Father. 

But if we pray, I mean truly pray for guidance, then we can take maybe one step - one teeny weeny difficult step, and another, and another, until we can transform our marriages into what God intended for every married couple, and maybe we will receive His blessing on our homes.


From the inside-out,
TB

Friday, March 16, 2012

5 Blogs Every Husband Should Bookmark

As a christian husband and blogger, I read a lot of stuff by other christian husband /bloggers.  Even though I'm somewhat opinionated (Nooo. Really?), there is much to be gleaned from other bloggers and other opinions, especially when they are solidly written and based squarely on scripture.

Aside from my blog, there are 5 other blogs that every christian husband must subscribe to and read.  I check these blogs every day for new insight on becoming a better husband to my wife, a better father to my children, and a better child of my Heavenly Father.   
  1. The Generous Husband - Paul and his wife Lori (The Generous Wife) are gems when it comes to offering tips to husbands and wives.  Paul puts prayerful thought into each article, and he posts something almost every day.
  2. Journey To Surrender - Scott is a worship leader, songwriter and marriage blogger who is "Passionate about exalting the name of Jesus through worship and strong marriages." 
  3. The Husband Blog - Formerly Husband: A User's Guide, this blog is operated by MarriageKeepers Ministries.  It exists to help men become better husbands and improve their marriages.
  4. Safe at Home - A blog by Gary Sinclair, he offers practical concepts, strategies, and ideas to help keep your family and marriage safe, healthy, and growing.
  5. Engaged Marriage - Candid and practical advice that you can learn and put into action without a huge time commitment. Alongside the “action items,” you’ll find healthy doses of motivation in the form of humor, personal stories and spiritual reflections.
These bloggers and the information they share have helped me transform the way I think about spiritual leadership in my home.  Granted, I have a very long way to go, but these five folks are at the center of my morning reading right now, and I would recommend their posts to every husband (and soon-to-be-husband) I know.

Happy reading!


TB

Monday, March 12, 2012

Intimacy ... and Fear

To know and be known, completely. That's the intimacy we long for. I mean deep, deep, DEEP down inside.  We want it.  It feels right.

Sooo ... why don't we have it??  What's going on here, guys?  Why don't we "man-up" and open up?    What are we afraid of?

When we fall in love in all our googly-eyed, "everything is beautiful" euphoria, we are sure that we want to know everything about the target of our affections.

Until ....

You see, in every relationship, the cracks eventually begin to show, and when they do, the "I want us to know each other completely" thing really stares us down.  How much do I really  want her to know about me?  Do I really want to let her in on all of my secrets?  ALL OF THEM???  Do I?  REALLY???

  • Do I want her to know that I like to do that "nervous shake" thing with my leg because it feels neat?
  • Where would she stand on the scratching of private parts?
  • Do I want her to see the disgusting condition of my apartment?
  • Would I be comfortable letting this woman do my laundry? Even the underwear??
  • What about my perverted mind?  How can I let her in there???  Does she know how easily aroused I am?  I better hide that from her.  She won't understand.
  • What about the dreaded s-word (sex)?  How will I ever tell her about the wildness that I want in the bedroom?
  • Should I tell her about the thoughts I have when I look at the shape of her?  She'll probably slap me and never talk to me again.  
  • What about that super-secret stash of candy and chips in my car?  Oh, yeah.  She already knows about that.

It's complicated, this intimacy thing.  There is a definite cut-off point beyond which most of us are unwilling to let another human being  see or know us.  What are we afraid of?  More often than not, we want to develop that oneness with our wives, even yearn for it, but we are fearful of the rejection that so often accompanies intimacy.

Let's face it.  Men and women are different.  Men seek the physical intimacy as a means of feeling loved.  Women need the emotional connection to feel loved.  Who is wrong?

Neither is wrong.

What, then, should us male-types do about this?

First, we must accept that God made us the way we are.  We have our particular personalities because our Father in Heaven made them so.  That is not to say environment played no role in our how wonderful we turned out.  Of course, the way we were raised, our friends, siblings, past girlfriends and such all have influenced the way we are. However, each person is born with a certain bent toward one thing or another, and that remains with us forever.

So, we must stop apologizing for the skeletons in our closets and the desires in our hearts.  We must let them out and let our wives see them and accept them (or not) - because, frankly, sometimes they won't accept our skeletons, and sometimes they will want to change our desires. (*GASP* - You want WHAT??)  But that is a topic for another day.

Secondly, we must begin using the f-word (that's right - "feel").  We must start saying how we feel.  We must not continue to hide behind our facade while also expecting to develop any kind of real intimacy with our spouses.  Women like to talk.  we need to understand that and begin to open up to them.  It isn't easy, I know.  But our relationships will be so much better when we take this step.

Thirdly, we must accept the weirdness that comes from our wives, because two can play this game, and by golly, women are weird, too.  Not as disgusting maybe, but weird nonetheless.  They are just as frightened to expose themselves to us as we are to them.  Be gentle, be caring, be accepting, whether or not they accept you.  It's the right thing to do.

There you have it.  Just a few thoughts to kick off the topic of intimacy.  As always, I welcome your thoughts, reactions and questions.   In the meantime, go tell your wife a secret about yourself.


Be genuine - from the inside out!

TB




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Welcome To Genuine Husband

When I came to you, my friends, to preach God's secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning.
1 Corinthians 2:1 (GNB) 

 In February 2011 I started Tenorboy Journal, a personal blog about ... well ... nothing in particular, and everything in general.  As time progressed, I found there were a large number of posts on TJ devoted to marriage and husband/wife topics.  Before long I could see the necessity to launch a new blog that would be devoted to Christian marriage, particularly husbands.

I am in the process of transferring many of the TJ marriage posts to this blog.  I ask for your patience, as it is a large task, and I want to be extra careful to include all the important stuff.  I will maintain the original posts at Tenorboy Journal until I'm absolutely positive without a shadow of doubt that the transfers are complete. 

In the following days, weeks, months, and years this blog will contain information for christian husbands (and maybe some tidbits for wives as well).

In my personal journey to be a godly husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the church, I have read, discussed and studied a plethora (I always wanted to use that word) of material, and have grown by leaps and bounds.

I don't want to sound like I've done everything right.  Hardly (my wife can attest to that).  But I have a sincere heart for the genuine intimacy that is spelled out in God's Word for married couples.

It is my prayer that these pages will bless other husbands as I detail my unadulterated  thoughts about the triumphs, struggles, joys, agonies, and thoughts - good, bad, ugly, bizarre and obnoxious - inside the mind and soul of one genuine husband.

May the Lord help me as I consider the words I write, and may my thoughts be a blessing to others.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Marriage Blog Monday - March 5, 2012

Here are some marriage posts that stood out to me this week.

One Flesh Marriage
The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex - Sheila Gregoire's new book is out, and all the bloggers are recommending that wives buy it and read it.

The Generous Wife
3 Easy Ways to Romance Your Man - Speaking as a husband, these are pretty good tips.

Stupendous Marriage
Prayer and Fasting for Your Marriage - Do you and your spouse pray and fast together?

Awesome Husbands
4 Types of Mentors Every Man Should Seek - I blogged about this post this weekend, but it still bears mentioning.

Assume Love
The Stifling Marriage - If you feel stifled in your marriage, you can choose to work it oujt and find a third alternative.

Couple Things
Who Am I?  Who Are You? - Never stop discovering your spouse!

Marriage Gems
Strategies for Manly Married Men - Spend time with your wife.

The Romantic Vineyard
Legacy of MarriageWhat will your marriage legacy be?

Engaged Marriage
Do You Text for Romance? - I tried this recently - gotta try it again.  It's a great idea.

Happy reading!


... Later!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Waiting for Barnabas


Lawrence LaSalle of Awesome Husbands recently contributed a post entitled 4 Types of Mentors Every Man Should Seek.  In the article he outlines the three mentors that, according to Howard Hendricks, every man need in his life.  While speaking at a rally for men, Hendricks said, “You need a Paul, you need a Barnabas, and you need a Timothy.”

Paul = someone more spiritually advanced than you are.
Barnabas = a confidant: someone on your level to whom you can turn.
Timothy =  someone who is in need of a mentor.  Someone you can take under your wing.

Okay, while that's fine and all, why do these people have to be men?  Why can't I find a woman to be my mentor? The answer likely has much to do with the fact that when men talk to women they tend to hold back what they really want to say. In a mentoring situation, that will not do.

Lawrence goes on to explain the problems that came about as a result of a generation who grew up without those mentoring relationships.  The lack of fathers, grandfathers, and other men in the lives of boys, has caused a downward spiral for our so-called "civilized" society.

He explains that there are actually 4 types of mentoring relationships that men should develop in their lives.

Older Friend Mentor - It's good to have a friend who has wisdom; someone who can show you a better way to do something, because he has been through it.

Marriage / Husband Mentor - Look for a mentor who has proven that he is a good husband.  Find someone who has an exemplary marriage, someone who knows how to lead, someone who loves his wife as Christ loved the church.

Spiritual Mentor - Seek out someone who has a faithful spiritual life, and who will help you grow in your faith.


Accountability Mentor - Someone who will call you out on your sin is a great friend to have.  Accountability is a difficult thing.  It often hurts, but it is necessary if we want to grow closer to God.

While I appreciate the idea of the different categories,  I also find it unnecessary to look for 4 different mentors.  It would likely prove to be exhausting and confusing.  I don't do exhausting and confusing very well.  For someone like me it would be a sure-fire recipe for failure.  I'll stick to the three that were suggested in the first place, by Howard Hendricks.

Okay, so with that in mind, how am I doing?  Do I have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy?

At the moment I have a Paul and a Timothy, but, sadly, no Barnabas.

2 out of 3 ain't bad, right? (*sigh*)

I've had friends who I considered to be confidants in the past, but they either died, moved away, or changed direction in such a way that we could no longer maintain that close connection.  In other words, lives change, people drift apart. Currently there isn't a person to whom I can tell anything, without judgement or repercussion.

It's not like I can advertise for a friend on Craigslist.  Well, actually I guess I could, but that would be very weird, and wrong on so many levels that ... never mind.

I will just continue to leave myself open to opportunities for friendship, and eventually I will find a man who will be my confidant, and I his.  Until then ... I will wait on the Lord.


... Later! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Just Passing Along Some Articles ... a.k.a. Just call Me "Master"

I don't want this blog to become a soap box for marriage issues and such, but this week I received articles about headship and submission from two of my readers, and I want to pass them along.

The first group of posts are from Winging It, a blog that offers a biblical view of life for men, by men.  In these posts, the writer offers a biblical perspective on the roles of a wife and a husband.  Each post is detailed, thoughtful, most of all, truthful.  He lets the chips fall where they may.

Role of a Wife - Part 1
Role of a Wife - Part 2
Role of a Wife - Part 3
Role of a Wife - Summary
 
Role of a Husband - Part 1
Role of a Husband - Part 2
Role of a Husband - Part 3

Role of a Husband -Summary

Marriage 101 - Mutual Submission
Marriage 101 - The Sum of the Matter

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And speaking of letting the chips fall where they may, another reader sent me this article from Covered4Him.  This writer is blunt, to say the least.  It is very literal and leaves no wiggle room.  In other words, the Bible says what it says.  Period.  (Maybe I should insist that my wife call me "Master.") So, if you are offended by blunt, no-holds-barred truth, then you probably want to skip this article.

Christian Wifely Submission to Husband

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Anyway, I just wanted to pass along these items because someone thought they were important enough to share with me. 


... Later!